Melanie Neilan and Tim Hopper
Melanie Neilan and Tim Hopper Credit: Michael Brosilow

Since its release last spring, Daft Punk’s megahit “Get Lucky” has been everywhere—on the dance floor, on the radio in the grocery store, on the Grammys (it was named Record of the Year), even on its own line of Durex condoms. This spring Steppenwolf’s Russian Transport used it to deliver dread. In Erika Sheffer’s darkly humorous drama, a recent emigre from Russia (Tim Hopper, all the more scary for being cast against type) joins his sister (Mariann Mayberry, likewise) and her family in their Brooklyn home. He’s a human trafficker, we realize gradually, luring young women to the States with promises of modeling and dancing jobs. Much of the play tracks his manipulation of his Americanized niece and nephew, a teenage daughter (Melanie Neilan, who also plays the unknowing victims) and a twentysomething son, Alex (Aaron Himelstein), who’s enlisted by his uncle to pick the women up from the airport. When Alex is chauffeuring yet another new arrival to an unnamed destination, “Get Lucky” plays and, sitting in the backseat quivering with hope and excitement, she bounces along to to the track, more than ready for a night of clubbing. As the refrain “We’re up all night to get lucky” repeats relentlessly, we’re hit with the full horror of her captivity—as is Alex. The sound design team for Russian Transport, Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, is also behind the sound and music for This Is Our Youth, which runs at Steppenwolf through July 27 before heading to Broadway this fall; director Yasen Peyankov, a Steppenwolf ensemble member better known for his roles in productions like Three Sisters and Superior Donuts, will be back as a director next summer with Heidi Schreck’s Grand Concourse, which will also feature Tim Hopper.